A Florida congresswoman is getting more attention as a possible vice presidential candidate.
The New York Times reported this week that U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, is talking up a few potential candidates including U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.
“With the identity of the Democratic standard-bearer unknown, Mr. Schumer has begun to ponder ways of uniting the party behind whoever that person might be: The Senate leader is particularly focused on the idea of nominating an African-American woman for vice president, mulling names like Senator Kamala Harris of California, Stacey Abrams of Georgia and Representative Val Demings of Florida, according to people who have spoken with Mr. Schumer,” the Times reported.
Schumer has not been the only prominent Democrat to mention Demings as a potential vice-presidential candidate.
Back in January, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., talked up Demings, saying she backed her fellow member of the Florida delegation to be on the ticket.
“They say Stacy Abrams, but I’m with Val Demings all the way,” Frankel told the Palm Beach Post.
With former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. as the main Democratic candidates–and with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg also in the mix–Demings makes some sense as a vice-presidential candidate.
Demings, an African-American woman who worked in law enforcement for more than a quarter of a century, enjoyed a stint in the national spotlight as one of the House impeachment managers.
Still, there is some downside to naming Demings to the ticket though the same problems would hold true for Abrams. Most House members simply don’t command much attention–which helps explain why they are almost never added to national tickets. The only politician who ever went from the House to the presidency was James A. Garfield back in 1880. Even as running mates, House members usually hurt the ticket more than help it. Paul Ryan didn’t do much for Mitt Romney in 2012–the GOP ticket couldn’t even carry Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin–but he didn’t greatly hurt the ticket. The same can’t be said for William Miller who helped drag Barry Goldwater down. In 1964 Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale’s running mate, helped the ticket as the first woman on a major party’s presidential ticket but not enough to carry her home state of New York as the Reagan-Bush ticket cruised to victory.
In her two terms in Congress and in her distinguished law enforcement career, which saw her rise to become Orlando’s police chief, Demings has impressed. But the last politician who moved directly from the House to the vice presidency was John Nance Gardner who was FDR’s first running mate and had been in the national spotlight as speaker of the House. Before that, it was Sunny Jim Sherman, the longtime New York congressman who was William Howard Taft’s understudy. Simply put, members of the House can’t always deliver their states–Ryan, Ferraro and Miller didn’t–since they have never won a statewide election. They are also largely untested and unknown.
In the meantime though, the trial balloons floating Demings’ name keep getting launched. With the Democratic field continuing to narrow, Demings looks like a serious contender in the veepstakes and she certainly balances the ticket for Biden, Sanders and Bloomberg.
Kevin Derby wrote this analysis. He can be reached at email@example.com.